Ticks Test Positive for Lyme Disease in Santa Monica Mountains

Medicine Woman Trail at Paramount Ranch, a unit of the National Park Service. | Photo: SMMNRA/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Ticks from three parks in the Santa Monica Mountains have tested positive for Lyme disease, officials announced today. The parks, all found between Agoura Hills and Malibu, are Paramount Ranch, Malibu Creek State Park, and Tapia Park.

"This is a good reminder for visitors to stick to the trail and avoid the vegetated areas where ticks like to hang out," said Evan Jones, the chief ranger for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, in a news release. "Though Lyme disease can be very serious, simply following a few basic steps can greatly minimize exposure."

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A western blacklegged tick. | Photo: Courtesy NPS
A western blacklegged tick. | Photo: Courtesy NPS   

Jones recommends that visitors check their clothing and exposed skin, brushing off any insects before leaving parks. Light-colored long sleeved shirts and pants are also recommended.

Tests were conducted at about dozen sites within the mountain range by the Los Angeles County West Vector and Vector-Borne Disease Control District. "We're finding that about 1 or 2 percent of western black-legged ticks in the area carry the Lyme disease bacteria, so it's important for us to identify where the problem is occurring," said Robert Saviskas, the agency's executive director. "This particular tick is most active from late November through May." 

Lyme disease was first detected in the Santa Monica Mountains in 1998.

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